Meter accuracy being tested

Published 11:46 pm Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Water and gas meters are being tested for their accuracy and whether they can be refurbished or if they need to be replaced.

During Tuesday’s Picayune City Council meeting it was reported that water and gas meters are being tested for accuracy while the long awaited recycling program may just get off the ground.

Tony Ardella with Siemens, the company that has been contracted by the city to test the meters, reports that a sampling of water and gas meters have been pulled and sent off to labs for testing.

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Results of that testing should be available to the council in about 30 days and the results will also allow the council to judge whether the meters need to be replaced or if they can be refurbished, Ardella said.

One issue found involves one meter reading usage for three homes, said City Clerk Priscilla Daniel. She has also noted a problem with some meters only reading usage if the water flow was at a high rate.

“There are things out there that (Siemens) are looking at that could increase revenues …,” Daniel said.

Interim City Manager Harvey Miller said by the end of the process the city will regain precision and accuracy to the reading of meters.

Council member Larry Watkins also commented on the claim that the city is not reading meters. He said the reason some people have been getting bills showing zero usage is because some residents may have been charged too much on previous bills.

“We felt like we should return some of he money back to them,” Watkins said.

Daniel said flat rates are being applied only to residential water bills. Natural gas and commercial water meters are still being read.

A long-awaited recycling program will start soon with some help with Picayune Industries. Miller said the company has offered to help get the program started and in return the city will lend the city’s baler to the non-profit organization. The baler was donated to the city by Wal-Mart. Picayune Industries will use the baler to recycle materials that county and city residents bring in. Wal-Mart General Manager Steve LeBlanc said materials that will be accepted at Picayune Industries will include paper, cardboard, aluminum cans and plastic bottles. Items will be accepted from both city and county residents.

Dates and times that the business will accept recyclables will be announced later, LeBlanc said.

Tax revenues collected by the county are starting to come in to the city. Daniel said that so far the city has received about 22 percent of its ad valorem taxes. Soon the city will receive sales taxes collected in December. Purchases during that month tentatively have been reported to be more than one percent above projections, Daniel said.

The smoking ordinance drew some ire from two local bars. The VFW gets most of its revenue from people who patronize the bars to smoke and drink, said VFW and American Legion representative Ronald Lowe. He asked the council to consider adding an amendment to the ordinance to allow those establishments to continue to allow smoking as long as children are not present, which is most of the time.

“It would be a shame to close the club down, both clubs, that have been there for 50 years,” Lowe said.

Council attorney Nathan Farmer informed the council that after the ordinance goes into effect, the council can make any amendments it believes would be for the public good. The ordinance was published in a recent issue of he Picayune Item and should go into effect in less than 30 days.

The council went into executive session to discuss a contractual matter with an airport lease agreement, water company and the Intermodal Center and also to find a compromise to a disputed claim concerning water bills. Miller said after the executive session the council took no action on the airport or water company contractual matters. The water bills were resolved by giving the customers credit on their account. The contractual matter with the Intermodal Center was accepted with Lynn Gammill donating a number of historic items to be included in the center’s museum.

In other matters the council;

— Approved a parade to be held by the George W. Carver Planning Committee for a school reunion on July 3, starting at 11 a.m.

— Tabled final payment to Kanduit Construction for work performed on the Intermodal Center.

The next council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 3.